John Patterson, the (Non-Jewish) Lion Hunter of Judah

October 15, 2014 | Natan Slifkin
About the author:

On November 10, the ashes of Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson will be reinterred at an Israeli cemetery. Patterson earned a heroic reputation in the British military by shooting lions that were threatening the construction of a railway in Kenya. He was also an avid reader of the Bible, a philo-Semite, and a staunch supporter of Zionism. When World War I began, he led the Zion Mule Corps, a group of Jewish exiles from Palestine who joined the British in fighting the Ottoman empire. After the war’s end, Patterson fiercely protested British attempts to walk back from the Balfour Declaration. His dedication to the Jewish people did not end there, writes Natan Slifkin:

When World War II broke out, Patterson, now an old man, fought to create another Jewish Legion. After great effort, the Jewish Infantry Brigade was approved. Aside from fighting the Germans, members of the Brigade succeeded in smuggling many concentration-camp survivors into Palestine. Many other survivors had been cruelly turned away, and Patterson protested this to President Truman, capitalizing on his earlier relationship with Roosevelt. This contributed to Truman’s support for a Jewish homeland. Patterson spent most of his later years actively campaigning for a Jewish homeland and against the British Mandate’s actions toward the Jews in Palestine. Tragically, he passed away a month before the State of Israel was created.

Read more on Rationalist Judaism: